Whanganui's Seth Reardon is in the frame to potentially claim the 2020 Dirt Guide Cross Country Series this weekend.
It's the final throw of the dice for trophy hopefuls this weekend as the series roars to a conclusion south of Tokoroa.
Forest land at Ohakuri, near Atiamuri, is again the venue for this third and final round of the series and, if previous rounds are anything to go by, it'll likely be another nail-biter on Saturday.
The three-round 2020 series began in June, soon after the coronavirus pandemic restrictions had been eased in New Zealand, and the huge turn-out of riders that day signalled that members of New Zealand's big motorcycling "family" were certainly eager to get out of lockdown and back on their bikes.
In the weeks since then the riding has intensified and the fitness of these athletes should now be at optimum levels.
The venue at Ohakuri, just off State Highway 1, about halfway between Tokoroa and Taupō, provides something special for riders from both ends of the talent or competitiveness spectrum and a traditional trail ride set for the following day (Sunday) will give riders who crave more time in the saddle a second crack at the trails.
There have been two different outright winners at the two rounds thus far – Manawatū's Paul Whibley the winner of round one and Waikato's Dylan Yearbury the top man at round two – but any one of perhaps half a dozen riders are capable of snatching away the main trophy on Saturday.
Helensville's Tom Buxton, Whanganui's Seth Reardon, Taupo's Wil Yeoman, Rotorua trio Bradley Lauder, Callum Dudson and Ethan Harris, Wellington's Jake Whitaker, Oparau's James Scott, Thames rider Natasha Cairns and Tokoroa's Jake Wightman, to name just a few, could be expected to threaten for the win.
"Only a few people ever win races like this, so it's not really about the winning, but about participation and enjoyment," said Dirt Guide Series promoter Sean Clarke, of Tokoroa.
In addition to the expert grade riders, the series caters also for junior riders and for intermediates, veterans and women as well.
In the intermediate grade, Hamilton's Rowan Watt and Taupō's Scott Taylor share the lead overall after two rounds and so the battle for glory in that zone of the competition will also go down to the wire on Saturday.
With a 1-4 score-card after the first two rounds, Whangamata's Ethan Jameson leads the junior grade for the series overall, just three points ahead of Rotorua's Daniel Bates, although New Plymouth's Josh Houghton could also be expected to feature near the front of the junior ranks on Saturday.
The forest venue is signposted from Atiamuri on SH1, with the 90-minute junior race set to kick off at 9.30am, while the two-hour senior race will start just after midday.
The popularity of The Dirt Guide Series has grown steadily since its beginnings in 2008 and, with separate trails and several different grades incorporated into the day's racing, catering for all levels of confidence and ability.
Saturday's event is also an ideal opportunity for the lesser or beginner riders to learn from the masters.
The Dirt Guide Series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O'Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley goggles, Ogio, TCX boots, Yoshimura, Forest Trail Events and SatCo Logging Equipment.